Home > data journalism, data science, feedback loop, modeling > Looking for big data reading suggestions

Looking for big data reading suggestions

April 29, 2015

I have been told by my editor to take a look at the books already out there on big data to make sure my book hasn’t already been written. For example, today I’m set to read Robert Scheer’s They Know Everything About You: how data-collecting corporations and snooping government agencies are destroying democracy.

This book, like others I’ve already read and written about (Bruce Schneier’s Data and Goliath, Frank Pasquale’s Black Box Society, and Julia Angwin’s Dragnet Nation) are all primarily concerned with individual freedom and privacy, whereas my book is primarily concerned with social justice issues, and each chapter gives an example of how big data is being used a tool against the poor, against minorities, against the mentally ill, or against public school teachers.

Not that my book is entirely different from the above books, but the relationship is something like what I spelled out last week when I discussed the four political camps in the big data world. So far the books I’ve found are focused on the corporate angle or the privacy angle. There may also be books focused on the open data angle, but I’m guessing they have even less in common with my book, which focuses on the ways big data increase inequality and further alienate already alienated populations.

If any of you know of a book I should be looking at, please tell me!

  1. JIm Bender
    April 29, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I just bought (for free) two Big Data Kindle books. Since most of what I am doing now is data analytic-oriented, I thought that I needed to learn what is happening. I would buy your book, by the way.


  2. Aaron Lercher
    April 29, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Jaron Lanier’s books might or might not be helpful to you, and you are probably already aware of them. Lanier’s deepest concern is with the value of human creativity, which might seem too romantic (or too vague) for some folks. His second book, Who Owns the Future?, presumes that everyone is creative, and talks about how the value derived from that creativity might be more equitably distributed.


    • April 29, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Thanks. Along those lines I really liked Astra Taylor’s book, The People’s Platform


  3. Frank
    April 29, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I can’t wait to see the book! One idea for differentiation: the other big data books you mention were written by a lawyer, security expert, and journalist. The field clearly needs a mathematician’s view. Nearly all the “quants'” takes are apologetic. More over, too many takes on finance are abjectly sycophantic, along the lines of Andrew Palmer’s The Root of all Good (yeah, he’s talking about finance).


  4. JIm Bender
    April 29, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I am currently reading Hadoop Explained. It may be too basic for you, but it seemed appropriate for me, as I am just getting my feet wet.


  5. April 29, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Not a book, but an article for you: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/02/opinion/goff-big-data/


  6. Becky Jaffe
    April 29, 2015 at 8:31 pm
  7. Becky Jaffe
    April 29, 2015 at 8:32 pm
  8. Becky Jaffe
  9. Becky Jaffe
    April 29, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Also: your book rocks!


  10. April 30, 2015 at 2:16 am

    Here’s another resource and I think you already found their report, but Pam does a great job on explaining “scoring” as it’s not only the data that gets sold but the analytics on how they score you as well and with flaws, people get scored right out of opportunities. This link below is good as she compiled all the “opt out” data brokers complete with links. Don’t fall over when you see her extensive list she compiled…excellent work here and all should see this page in my opinion:) Tons of “big data” brokers:) You may have to poke around a bit as some of it could be organized a bit better depending on what you are looking for but the site is excellent. I relate to it from the privacy point as somehow, and probably through some keyword match on my healthcare blog that I’m a person of record who takes blood thinners and it’s not true at all. I have written about blood thinners on my blog and assume that’s how I got on the list with some real sloppy data matching. I’ve had two off shore phone calls soliciting me for clinical trials telling me they have me on record taking them. They have my name, etc. as they verify the information on who I am and so on and then when I ask them where they got their information “click” goes the phone:)


    Long time ago I called it an epidemic with all selling every stick of data they can make money with. Radio Shack article today said they are going to sell the data they collected to help pay off their debtors…there you go. What was astounding though, is the article I read said there are over 200 data line items available connected to each transaction…whoa..what do they have in their database to have 200 available bits of information related to each customer is what I ponder…what they heck are they “really” selling?


    • tgottschling
      May 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm

      Algorithms these days! Sherry Turkle was the first woman to be on a cover of Wired Magazine; her early work is very interesting. It needs said; she has done a 180-degree turn around.



  11. Elena Botella
    May 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    You might want to take a look at The Naked Future — the authors claim is that if people had the right to review and reclaim their data streams (and the conclusions that 3rd parties generated on the basis of those data streams), that big data would go from being a tool that benefits marketers to something that actually helped people


  12. tgottschling
    May 12, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Came across your blog and thought I’d comment re a request for big data reads. I haven’t read Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” or Steve Lohr’s “DATA-ISM” but they’re on my reading list. “The Glass Cage: Automation and US” by Nicholas Carr is a good read. And, “The Image: A Guide to Pseudo Events in America” by Daniel J. Boorstin is an excellent book and must read.



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